Civilians Paid a Very High Price for Raqqa’s Devastating ‘Liberation’ by US-led Forces, by Donatella Rovera and Benjamin Walsby

As we learned in Vietnam, sometimes you have to destroy a city to save it. From Donatella Rovera and Benjamin Walsby at

Driving around in Raqqa, it was easy to believe what a senior US military official said – that more artillery shells were launched into the Syrian city than anywhere else since the Viet Nam war.

There was destruction to be seen on virtually every street, in the heaps of rubble, bombed-out buildings and twisted metal carcasses of cars. There were also constant reminders of devastated civilian lives, in the broken possessions, scraps of clothing and grubby children’s toys scattered amongst the ruins.

Between 6 June and 17 October 2017, the US-led Coalition mounted an operation to “liberate” Raqqa from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS). The Coalition claimed its precision air campaign allowed it to oust IS from Raqqa while causing very few civilian casualties, but our investigations have exposed gaping holes in this narrative.

Our new report, ‘War of annihilation’: Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria, presents the evidence we collected over several weeks in Raqqa, investigating cases of civilians who paid the brutal price for what US Defense Secretary James Mattis promised to be a “war of annihilation” against IS.

Residents were trapped as fighting raged in Raqqa’s streets between IS militants and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters, supported by the Coalition’s air and artillery strikes. IS mined escape routes and shot at civilians trying to flee.

Hundreds of civilians were killed: some in their homes; some in the very places where they had sought refuge; and others as they tried to flee.

We investigated the cases of four Syrian families, who between them lost 90 relatives and neighbors almost all of them killed by Coalition air strikes.

In the case of the Badran family, 39 family members were killed in four separate Coalition air strikes as they ran from place to place inside the city, desperately seeking a way of avoiding rapidly shifting frontlines and coalition air bombardments over the course of several weeks.

To continue reading: Civilians Paid a Very High Price for Raqqa’s Devastating ‘Liberation’ by US-led Forces


One response to “Civilians Paid a Very High Price for Raqqa’s Devastating ‘Liberation’ by US-led Forces, by Donatella Rovera and Benjamin Walsby

  1. From Googling “population of Raqqa”:
    “With a population of 220,488 based on the 2004 official census, Raqqa was the sixth largest city in Syria. During the Syrian Civil War, the city was captured in 2013 by the Syrian opposition and then by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL went on to make the city its de facto capital in 2014.”
    The google population for 2018 Raqqa is 61,000.

    Here are some images of how the bombing saved Raqqa.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.